Islamabad United beat Peshawar Zalmi by 7 wickets via the D/L method. Here is the full commentary and scorecard.
A blistering 73 from 39 balls by the experienced Brad Haddin sailed the United ship past the finish line in the opening match of the HBL PSL season II against Zalmi. For a huge portion of the game the result was very unlikely as the sea saw was falling to both sides between the overs. When Dawid Malan and Kamran Akmal finished their 122 run partnership (second highest in the PSL history), it looked like the Zalmi would cruise to a big score and defend it with ease. Akmal scored 88 of just 68 balls. Islamabad United picked up wickets at regular intervals to restrict the Zalmi below an expected 200 or more. Even with late hitting from Chris Jordan, they could only finish at 190.
The United chase did not start off as they wanted with Sharjeel Khan being out LBW in the second over. However, that did no affect their priceless partnership between Dwayne Smith and Haddin. They added 104 of just 70 balls with a rain delay. Yep that’s right, a rain delay in Dubai, IN DUBAI!!! The fellow Aussie in the team – Shane Watson – took 4 wickets as well as smashing some finishing touches by smashing 19 of the penultimate over from Junaid Khan.
Islamabad was under the pump when they lost their descructive opener Sharjeel Khan. Many young players might have panicked in such a situation but with the massive mountain of experience from Smith and Haddin straightened the car on a bumpy highway and from there on the road was as smooth as cloud. Smith held one end up but Haddin let it rip against the Zalmi bowlers. But they were not slogs, they were proper test cricket cover drives for boundaries. The pair made sure that they do enough for Sam Billings and Watson to smash the final nail in the coffin of the Zalmi.
The men that had a leading role in the victory of the United were surprisingly the opening bowling pair. Mohammed Irfan and Mohammed Sami took 3 wickets and gave 43 runs in the eight overs with them. There was drama on the first ball of the HBL PSL as Mohammed Hafeez got out in known fashion by poking at one outside off stump with the ball flying to Sharjeel Khan and an easy catch was taken. Sami gave 16 off his 4 overs with an important wicket of Kamran in the 16th over. This was the where the downfall of the Zalmi started.
The batting difference between the Zalmi and United was what happened after their major partnerships ended. As soon as the Malan-Kamran partnership fell no one really got going with just 49 runs of the last 7.3 overs but when Haddin fell Smith was happy to lead the ship with Watson to make Misbah’s men reach home easily in the end.
The most underrated innings was the Smith 55 from 49 balls. Without that the United probably would have had no chance of chasing down 191 with Sharjeel being dismissed early. Smith could also have been prevented to show the fireworks after the opening ceremony when the captain, Darren Sammy, dropped at catch at slip.
United have managed to pick up from where they left off last year by winning their 6th consecutive match but Zalmi needs to go back to the drawing board as losing their 3rd consecutive match is not the best from a strong and versatile squad.
The Cornered Tiger